Fundraising numbers for June have been released, and the picture isn’t rosy for President Obama and the Democrats. Romney announced an enormous haul of $107 million for the month while Obama raised $71 million. The gap between the two is widening, and that doesn’t include Super-PAC money, which tends to favor Republicans. Because of the polarization of power in American politics, this will inadvertently benefit candidates who oppose LGBT rights. Don’t quit your job and book plane tickets to Canada just yet, though. This week, Laura Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs and proud lesbian, announced she is launching the first-ever political action committee dedicated to supporting candidates favorable to lesbian voters.
Fittingly called “LPAC,” the committee will be co-founded by another heiress, Sarah Schmitd, and a slew of veteran gay rights activists. Ricketts, a co-chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Council and major fundraiser for the president, said she noticed lesbians were in the minority at political events for gay donors. The new Super-PAC is a way for powerful lesbians to tip the balance.
Go get ‘em, ladies! I view an event like this with much enthusiasm. Sexual orientation has added another dimension to inequality and women are again not often included equally as men in this respect. Yes, on principal I believe the idea of the “Super-PAC” as an abomination and a step back from real democracy — where privileged elite hold power over the common man. How can unlimited money into politics not destroy the system?
However, the one area where they can have a real and justifiable impact is in minority issue campaigns. The prospect of allowing an organization to raise unlimited money for what is obviously preferential treatment only overloads the system when it is used by those already in power. But for a minority group — like lesbians — who are out of power and seek only equality, not privilege — it can be an equalizer.
Think of it in these terms: Oil is already subsidized massively in the U.S. That is one reason gas is so much cheaper here than in Europe. At the same time, oil companies in the last 20 years have become by far the largest corporations in the world, with record breaking profits for Exxon Mobil being posted every quarter, all the while adding to the national debt. Now, thanks to the rise of Super-PACs, these companies can donate hundreds of millions of dollars to pro-Big Oil candidates to continue these favors, as if they needed any more power.
Yet when a repressed minority gets access to campaign cash, they use it in a way that levels the playing field. Gays are hardly asking for special tax breaks or anything of the sort. Mostly, we just want to be treated equal. That would include repealing DOMA and passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to remove the final vestiges of political humiliation on the LGBT community. On the local level, candidates who favor marriage equality would also benefit from a lesbian Super-PAC and local level offices can be far more effected by national money.
Thanks to LPAC, lesbians will gain a voice in the screaming match that has become money politics. It may be a small one at first –LPAC has a stated goal of raising $1 million for the 2012 campaign season — that doesn’t mean it won’t be effective. Men hold a major advantage over women in politics, as do gays over lesbians. It’s about time someone in a position of power spoke out for the little guy (or girl). Women — whether gay or straight — are still disadvantaged, which was made obvious when the discussion on reproductive health in Washington was dominated by men who never have to bear children.
Ideally, the next Supreme Court will rethink Citizens United and ultimately kill Super-PACs. That doesn’t mean special issues and causes like gay rights can’t still raise money. The best result would be for Congress to draft a campaign finance bill that keeps corporate money out of groups that support their own self-interest, but allows for money to flow to the disadvantaged in society. That way, money influence isn’t abused, but Laura Ricketts can fight for her right to be recognized as an equal citizen of the United States. Seems fair to me.